Joe Biden: US VP approves bills to improve vets benefits

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The bills aim to overhaul disability insurance, reduce bureaucratic red tape for Americans still living on the verge of homelessness, and reduce the backlog of veterans eligible for disability payments

Joe Biden has approved a series of bills aimed at improving benefits for veterans, from providing cheaper insurance to improvements to a well-used database.

Mr Biden, the US vice-president and a former US senator, signed the measures in his role as Veterans Affairs (VA) secretary on Wednesday.

He also approved 10 measures targeting specific issues, including help for homeless veterans.

Mr Biden is battling brain cancer.

Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

One bill would provide a reduction in what businesses pay the disability insurance fee after they have hired a veteran through a VA-sponsored programme.

The bill will also simplify the decision-making process for these hiring decisions.

It is estimated that current costs will be less than $5m (£3.6m).

Mr Biden also signed the LA-SPIN Act.

Under the initiative, VA officials will get access to one computer system that would track military service records.

The data under this database would allow them to better identify people eligible for disability payments.

Mr Biden also approved the Solving Homelessness Initiative.

It will create a facility where homeless veterans, who have housing vouchers but become homeless because of a crisis, can access mental health resources.

The facility will employ case managers and have case managers of their own.

Under current circumstances, homeless veterans can receive mental health treatment and drug treatments from VA but they cannot receive medical care.

Another bill will increase the number of homeless veterans eligible for VA health care.

So far this year, there are an estimated 55,000 homeless veterans, according to the White House.

The budget for the VA, which has a staff of more than 230,000, is $72bn (£52bn).

The total projected cost of Mr Biden’s package is $13bn (£10.5bn), reports The Associated Press.

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